Guest lecturer Sandy Cares has been sharing her entertaining lectures aboard Oceania Cruises voyages throughout the Caribbean and Central America since January 2014. Below, she shares her experience in Virgin Gorda.
I should not play favorites. So when people ask which is my favorite Caribbean destination, I always say, “Wherever we are today,” and I truly mean it. But I must admit that when back home in Michigan, I conjure up visions of the most idyllic Caribbean island of all: Virgin Gorda.
In 1493 on his second New World voyage, Christopher Columbus sailed through a constellation of islands and named the whole lot the Virgin Islands after St. Ursula’s 11,000 legendary virginal bridesmaids. One standout stole his heart. Its voluptuous silhouette resembled a maiden slumbering serenely on her Caribbean waterbed. He named it Virgin Gorda, the Fat Virgin.
Less than nine square miles and home to fewer than 4,000 locals, Virgin Gorda boasts world-class ultra-luxury properties like Little Dix Bay and Biras Creek. But hands-down, the Fat Virgin’s biggest draw is a geological curiosity called The Baths.
The day we arrive, an open-air jitney conveys us from Spanish Town to the bluff over The Baths National Park at the island’s southernmost tip. A footpath leads down to the beach and along the way gnarled roots and slippery rocks are the playground for tropical birds, mongooses, and iguanas. Eventually the path spills onto a beach with diaphanous aquamarine water.
The house-sized boulders strewn about the beach confirm volcanic origins. These gigantic rock piles form caverns and hidden passages that secrete haunting lagoons. A driftwood sign stuck in the sand points to “The Grotto,” a huge cavern beneath a jumble of boulders where the world darkens and the unremitting slosh and gurgle of water echoes.
We grasp guide ropes as we slide across an enormous bosom of rock to begin the forty-five minute crawl to the other side. The obstacle course requires calculated calisthenics as it winds through tight passages, beneath rock overhangs, across scaffolding and through sandy puddles.
Finally, we scale a platform and shimmy between a couple more boulders where we escape to the white sand. Once my eyes re-adjust to the brightness, I head straight for the water—unbelievably refreshing!
However you decide to savor your visit to the Caribbean, the Fat Virgin will steal your heart. After all, she’s been doing it for five hundred years and counting.
Join Sandy’s lectures in the Caribbean this December:
By Sandy Cares